New Doctor, new series, new (smaller) name for companion, it’s all change at Doctor Who these days. The new broom has also been brushing away at the action figure line, which has been re-launched at a new, smaller scale. They’re now 3.75 inches tall which is, apparently, industry standard and allows them to interact with other toy ranges more easily. In practice, they look like this:(opens in new tab)
This has a couple of effects and let’s get the bad one out of the way first: your “classic” range figures are going to tower over these new ones. For a lot of single episode characters that’s not going to be an issue but for recurrent monsters and, crucially, new Doctors, it certainly is. Character Options has said there will be no more figures at the old scale but, given the fact we’re a couple of months off a new Doctor and, apparently, Christmas will be happening this year, I have my doubts about how long that policy will last.
So, collectors are faced with a choice: wait for the limited “classic scale” figures that are almost certain to land eventually; get in contact with one of the numerous, talented customisers out there; or take the hit and pick these figures up. It’s a tough choice and not one I’m sure I could make. Go with your hearts, folks.
So what do they actually look like?
I know, I know, the “Have you ever seen Matt Smith?!” comments are inevitable but that’s a solid likeness. The figure’s articulation is nicely done too, if restricted by the coat. However, top marks for giving him a “Sonic hand” so the Sonic Screwdriver is much less likely to fall victim to the vast-mouthed hordes of Vaccum Cleaneros. All in all, it’s a good figure and a very good representation of the “Victorian Coat/Slightly More Hipster” phase of the 11th Doctor’s career. However, it should be pointed out that on my copy the head pops off pretty easily. This opens up the possibility of a “Doctor’s head in box” variant but that’s not entirely a good thing. Exercise caution. And, possibly, a small amount of tack.(opens in new tab)
Clara’s likeness is similarly impressive, and, like the 11th Doctor, the work on her paint scheme is actually very good. However, she does suffer a bad case of Unexciting Accessory Disease. The red satchel she ships with is very nicely painted but neither sits on her shoulder or actually does anything. Maybe the cup of tea from ‘The Bells Of St John” would have been a better fit? Or the leaf from “The Rings of Akhaten”? She also suffers from the same restricted movement of the 11th Doctor figure, meaning these are ultimately very pretty figures that you can’t really pose. In fact, that’s the best way to sum up the line; based on these two samples, the 3.75-inch Doctor Who figures have excellent detailing and design but are almost static from the waist down. The figures that aren’t in long over clothes may be very different but the Doctor and Clara figures definitely have this problem.
So what does that mean for a collector? Well, if you’ve been picking the range up in the old scale then this is another strike against them. If you’re new to the range then it depends on whether you’re buying the figures to display or for someone in your house to play with. For display, these are pretty good. As toys, despite the boundless crossover potential of the new scale (“This week, the Doctor and Pinkie Pie investigate when Green Lantern calls for help”), they leave quite a lot to be desired.(opens in new tab)
However, all is not lost! I was also sent one of Character Option’s new range of Heritage Sonic Screwdrivers. These include the Screwdrivers used by River Song and the 10th, 4th and 3rd Doctor. I was sent the 3rd Doctor’s one which is nicely-scaled and has a solid version of the colour scheme, right down to the yellow and black striping around the middle. The tip is red (ooohh… and indeed err…) not black but other than that it’s a good replica. Plus, the sound effect is triggered by a very fun, and simple mechanic where you pull down on the middle of the Screwdriver. It’s simple, sturdy, fun and a nice piece.
So where does that leave us? With a lot of potential, not all of it fulfilled. The Sonic Screwdrivers are a really smart idea and I can understand the thinking behind the scale change, but, oddly, I can’t support it in isolation. The new figures are great but the lack of mobility combined with the new size is going to be more than enough to drive people away and that’s a shame because they have some really good qualities. Hopefully Character Options will realise that a little more flexibility will pay dividends, both for their new range of figures and the increasingly disgruntled collectors of the old range.
The new Doctor Who action figures cost £6.99 and are available now. The range includes the 11th Doctor, Clara, a Cyberman as seen in “Nightmare In Silver”, an Ice Warrior as seen in “Cold War” (in armour not the weird, slithery version), a Weeping Angel and, oddly, an RTD-era Dalek.
The Heritage Sonic Screwdriver range, including the Screwdrivers used by River Song, the 10th Doctor, the 4th Doctor and the 3rd Doctor are available now, priced £13.99